Owning a pet when you’re in your senior years may even be better than when you’re single and want to have fun. In fact, for many single people, having a dog in their lives can sometimes be added responsibility on top of everything they have to do for work and their personal lives. But when you’re retired, your dogs will be a great source of comfort. A Mayo Clinic study even suggested that dogs are great for your heart.
The study looked at almost 1,800 people between the ages of 25 and 64 who had healthy hearts. It found that 42% of the participants owned a dog. The reason is that people with dogs live healthier lifestyles owing to the need for those dogs to walk. Seniors get the exercise they need every day by walking with their dogs. This also forces them to have heart-healthy lifestyles such as eating well and staying away from unhealthy food.
A different survey by the National Poll on Healthy Aging showed that more than half of the 2,051 adults aged 50 to 80 owned a pet. Of that number, 88% said their pets helped them enjoy life more and 86% said they feel loved because of their pets. Almost 72% said that their pets helped them cope with their physical and emotional health conditions. These are for seniors living alone with their pets.
Moving with Pets
A rising number of senior adults who need to transfer to a senior care facility refuse to leave their dogs behind or with family members. One of their requirements in agreeing to get transferred to these facilities is if their dogs can come with them. Thankfully, not only does a few of these facilities allow dogs to live with their patients, but there are also pet moving services that make the transition easier. Even if you have to move your parents or grandparents from one state to another, you won’t have to worry about transferring their dogs, too.
The number one reason why seniors love living with dogs is because of the companionship that they provide. Dogs can alleviate depression, isolation, and the feeling of loneliness. If they are to stay in a facility far from their children and grandchildren, the dogs are their next best companions. In fact, for some, they even prefer having their dogs with them.
Dogs are reassuring for seniors with dementia. Some dogs are even trained to help dementia patients calm down. For people who are suffering from mental conditions, seeing their dogs is a form of assurance. It may even help seniors who have a weak appetite to eat more regularly and healthily.
Aside from walking with the dogs around the facility or the neighborhood, seniors with arthritis also get to practice the movements of their arms and hands when their dogs ask to be pet. Taking care of their dogs is also a great source of activity since they have to wash and feed them. Doing activities with their dogs also takes their mind off their concerns about their health. They are also a source of mental stimulation.
Why do you think that dogs are almost always invited to visit children who are suffering from medical conditions? You’ve seen the news and the posts on social media. These dogs provide a source of comfort for these kids. They are instant mood boosters. They help reduce cortisol, a stress hormone, and improve the levels of serotonin or the happy hormone.
What Breeds Are Best for Seniors?
Seniors can choose whether to go for a small or large breed. Larger breeds like Labrador and Golden Retriever need a lot of exercise, so they may be too much for senior adults. However, they are also one of the most intelligent breeds, so they can help look after seniors with medical problems.
If they want a small breed, they can choose between a Bichon Frise or a Shih Tzu. Both of these are fairly low maintenance. They also love walking so that’s a good exercise for the seniors. They require minimal grooming. Some prefer to bring them to a professional groomer every month, so they don’t shed that much fur.
Seniors need love, care, and comfort. Sometimes, they don’t find that in their own families. If they do find it in dogs, then be grateful for it. Whatever maintenance the dogs require in terms of caring for them, it is such a small price to pay for the level of love that they make seniors feel. You will be amazed at the depth of solidarity and love that they feel for each other.